Legislature and Governor take steps towards cleaner air, need to do more next year

With Governor Newsom having acted on all the bills the Legislature sent him this year, it’s time to assess the results. Several bills that we supported to reduce harmful pollution are now law, but lawmakers failed to act on some key ambitious measures, leaving unfinished business for next year.


  • AB 970, authored by Assemblymembers Kevin McCarty and David Chiu and sponsored by Coalition for Clean Air and Electrify America, will streamline the process of permitting charging stations for battery-electric vehicles. A recent report by the Energy Commission found that the state needs to do much more to install charging infrastructure, but many local governments are dragging their feet. The Governor’s Office of Business Development reports that most of California’s cities and counties have not streamlined their permitting processes, even though it’s required by law.
  • SB 170, a budget bill authored by Senator Nancy Skinner, allocates $850 million garnered from carbon auctions to a variety of emission-reducing programs, including community air protection, replacement of agricultural diesel engines, and zero-emission small off-road engines.
  • Shockingly, the smog-forming emissions from small off-road engines like lawn and garden equipment and gasoline generators are higher than from all the cars in California. AB 1346, from Assemblymembers Marc Berman and Lorena Gonzalez, tells the Air Resources Board that it’s time to phase out sales of the gas-powered versions in favor of much cleaner – and quieter — electric alternatives. ARB is planning to consider this transition in December.
  • SB 372, by Senator Connie Leyva, will help small truck fleets finance the transition to zero emission engines.


  • AB 1147, authored by Assemblymember Laura Friedman, was the only bill passed by the Legislature this year to meaningfully address a problem that our state badly needs to tackle — reducing the miles traveled by our vehicles.Reducing vehicle miles travelled and making it easier for people to walk, bike or take public transit will cut air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions and improve health. The bill would have improved a “Sustainable Communities” process that has not been effective. Gov. Newsom, despite his statements about reducing transportation emissions, vetoed this well-crafted bill that had no opposition.


The Legislature notably failed this year to curb harmful emissions from oil and gas production, require accounting of greenhouse gas emissions from large corporations, extend the Clean Transportation Program, and raise the ambitions of California’s climate efforts. While some of these issues can be addressed by executive agencies, advocates are calling on lawmakers to put people’s health ahead of polluters’ profits and take bold action next year on the twin crises of air pollution and climate change.


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